A question about the term "Iyer"
Velu at RELHIST.UU.SE
Sat May 16 09:58:14 UTC 1998
I am of opinion that the word aiyar in this TolkAppiyam sUtra means elders
and not necessarily Brahmins.
>At 02:33 PM 5/15/98 PDT, you wrote:
>>I would like to know as to what is the approx time period since which
>>the word "aiyar" has been used to refer to a Tamil speaking Smartha
>> Earlier discussions by S.Palaniappan have been helpful in giving us
>>the etymology of "ai" related words and have proved that the word does
>>go back to classical Tamil..but since when has the word been
>>specifically used to denote a Smartha Brahmin? Likewise, does Tamil
>>literature ever use terms like "aiyAL" to refer to a smArta woman?
> Dear Dr.Krishna,
> The earliest reference to this word, that one
> can think of occurs in the "TholkAppiyam".
> In the "KaRpu iyal", verse #4 mentions it.
> "Poyyum valzuvum thOnRiya pinnar,
> Aiyar yAththanar karaNam enba"
> This with reference to mariage regulations.
> At one time the "KaLaviyal" form of love,
> living together as husband and wife was in vogue.
> Boy meets girl and they decide to become husband and
> In this custom, a lot of deceit, and wrongs
> crept in. So, after that the "aiyar" compiled the
> set-rules. So say the ancient ones.
> When TholkAppiyar says that someone else has
> already said so, it would naturally mean that it was
> said before his time. And the institution of the
> karaNam's by the aiyar's was even earlier than the
> saying was done. It could mean Brahmins in general.
> But whether they are Smarthas are nor not, or perhaps
> the Siva Brahmins or SivAchAryas and DhIkshithars,
> I would'nt venture to pin-point. This calls in
> a lot of other variables, like the date of TholkAppiyam,
> the date of Adhi Sankara, etc.
> In the epigrapical records , don't remember
> any Brahmin being addressed as "aiyar" On the other
> hand, they are known by epithets like "BrammAdhi rAjan"
> "BrammarAyan", "Kiramaviththan". Kiramaviththan would
> be the indicating a Brahmin well-versed with Krama-pAta
> of VEdhic recital. These could mean Smarthas, especially
> since these names are generally found after AdhiSankara's
> But I have seen later palmyra records
> where Smarthas are addressed as aiyar, ganapaadi,
> sAstri, and as Sarma.
> There is a curious useage for this word "aiyar"
> in the Periya PuraNam.
> NandhanAr is one of the 63 nAyanmAr devotees
> and he happened to be a Dalit.
> In the Periya PuraNam, he is addressed as "aiyar".
> Never heard of feminine gender of aiyar being
> addressed as aiyaL. [Pssst..normally we call them
> as "aiyarAththu mAmi" or simply "ammAmi":-)]
>> All replies will be appreciated.
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